If you’re a CFA charterholder considering a switch to freelance writing, read on for advice from the perspective of the corporate manager who may hire you. The manager asked to remain anonymous. Thank you, generous manager, you know who you are!
1. What type of writing assignments best match the freelancer’s skills? Is he or she a strong technical writer with a bent toward white-paper research, or does he/she lean toward less technical writing such as newsletters, brochure text, Web site communication?
2. Does he/she have a strong background in either retail or institutional investment management? I am frequently contacted by freelancers with good retail communication skills, who aren’t familiar with the more technical needs of our institutional audience.
3. What is a realistic client/workload? Most freelance needs relate to quarter- or year-end crunches. How will a writer fill the ‘tween time? And how many of those quarter cruncher assignments can he/she expect to fulfill?
4. Does the writer have the most state-of-the-art communication systems at home/office? He/she will be dealing with a variety of systems at the client level while on tight deadlines. Incompatible systems can be a deal-killer.
5. Is the writer’s style compatible with that of the client? We ensure that our writers receive our internal newsletters, opinion pieces, Web updates to provide continuity of “voice” as well as keep them apprised of activities at the firm.
6. Corollary to point 5., a freelancer needs a strong point person at the client firm to ensure he/she receives attribution reports, performance numbers, background literature, etc. in a timely manner to complete the assignment.
7. Join a local business-writing association (or work through your CFA society!) to keep abreast of current freelancing rates and to learn of independent contractors who may be able to subcontract your skills.
8. NEVER MISS A DEADLINE!! Deliver the written assignment with sufficient time for compliance, proofing, portfolio manager review, etc. at the client, before the material must go to print. We look for material one-two days before the “actual” deadline.
This article complements an earlier list of tips by freelance writer Omar Bassal, CFA. Note that both Omar and this corporate manager stress the importance of making deadlines.